My Family

Inside a Treasure Chest

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Didn't do any baking today.

For one thing, I got hit with a sore throat and congestion and aches and fatigue late yesterday afternoon and I was down for the count.  And annoyed about it – I still have so many cookies to do!!!! 

But whatever.  The cookies will get baked.  I'm feeling somewhat better now.

But apart from all that, today Bill and I took the kids to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see The Nutcracker.

It's the first time we've brought them to something this special.  We take them out to eat…we have taken them to the movies…things like that.  But this is their first time seeing a LIVE!  PERFORMANCE! ON A STAGE! 

I have to be honest here – I was a little worried about how Julia would behave.  One one hand, I thought – she'll be absolutely enthralled with all the ballerinas and their pretty costumes, and we'll be obligated to give her ballet lessons and let her audition next year.  (Hee hee…that would be so cute!)  But on the other hand…she's Julia, and she's four-and-a-half, and she sometimes gets in these moods where she oh, doesn't want to do something and it doesn't matter how angry you look or how red your face turns or how much smoke pours out of your ears – she just laughs gaily and continues to do whatever it is that you don't want her to do.  That's the part I was worried about.

Alex?  Well, yeah, it's got ballerinas…but there are boy dancers, too.  And the Nutcracker himself is male, right?  Turns into a prince?  And there's Herr Drosselmeyer, the wacky mysterious godfather.  He's a major player and he's a boy, too, right?  So that's something.  And, as I told Alex excitedly this morning, there are rats, or mice!  Rodents!  Yay!

Bill took a more mature approach and talked to Alex about the music the orchestra would be playing, what instruments they'd play, some of which they'd heard the other day while watching a videotape of Disney's Fantasia.

This morning, while I was cooking breakfast for someone, Alex was going over the game plan for the day.  "Julia's going and I'm going and Mommy's going to the Nutcracker…Daddy, are you going to be in it?"

An image of my husband in tights, leaping across the stage while tutu-clad girls twirled and pirhoueted behind him, flashed into my mind.  Thank you, Alex.  You made my morning.

But it was really because of the music.  He wondered if Bill might be playing guitar with the orchestra.  No.  Sorry.  They won't have any guitarists in the pit. 

We got dressed nicely (Alex:  "I have to wear a button shirt???"), and arrived at PPAC early enough to purchase a big chocolate chip cookie for Alex and a pretzel for Julia in the lobby.  And then, after the snacks, and the all-important trips to the bathrooms for the kids, we found our seats.

When I bought the tickets, at first I was going to be frugal.  So I checked out where we'd be sitting if we bought the mid-range price tickets.  And sure, we'd be better off than the nosebleed seats, but…what if…what if we paid a bit more.  Where would that put us?

Turns out, it put us where we sat today – row M, house left, on the aisle.  We walked into the theater and walked, and walked…getting closer and closer to the stage.  Great seats.  Well worth the splurge.  And besides – I figured if we were going to bring the kids to something as new (to them) and grown-up (for them) and expect them to sit still for two hours or so, then they should be able to really see what all the fuss was about.

We took our seats, took off our coats, and the kids looked around.

Go here for a view from the balcony.  It gives you a really good look at the ceiling.

And here's a look from the back of the auditorium.  We were over there on the left somewhere.  Near the front. 

The kids looked up and up and up, their mouths open and eyes wide.  Alex summed it up:

"It's like we're inside a treasure chest!"

Fabulous, Alex.  You're right.  That's exactly where we are.

Bill and the kids played "I Spy" while I skimmed the program and looked around at all the other children – mostly girls – in attendance.  Wonderful.  I looked over as Alex was spying something…yellow…and Julia was pointing at the coiffed and shellacked hair of the woman in the row in front of us.  Julia's finger was about an inch from the hair when I pulled her arm away and gave her a look.

At long last, the lights went down and the curtain rose.

And I would like to say that the kids were, in fact, enthralled and spellbound through the whole shoe.  But they weren't.  Julia couldn't see, so she and I switched seats so she could be on the aisle.  No shellacked heads in the way.  And then she stage-whispered her questions as the party guests skipped and glided across the stage. 

"What did that girl do?"

"Where are they going?"

"Who IS that?"

"What are those boys doing?"

After I hissed each answer and shushed her, the next question bubbled up.  Oh, please don't tell me the whole show is going to be like this.

Julia knelt on her seat and turned around to look at the people behind us who, by the way, were eating peanutbutter crackers in the NO FOOD BEYOND THIS POINT auditorium.  I wanted to turn around and ask if they'd brought enough for everyone.  Instead, I turned Julia around and gave her a good, firm, meaningful glare.

Meanwhile, to my left, Alex is bobbing back and forth, trying to see between the heads in front of him.  At least he was interested.  And then, while all the guests at the Christmas party were dancing and playing and carrying on, Alex leaned his head against my shoulder.  And then he was rubbing against my arm, like the cats do when they pass by the furniture.  What the heck?

"Your sweater is nice and warm, Mommy," he purred. 

Sigh.

Things actually went pretty well, really.  I relaxed a bit about Julia – she wasn't, after all, the only four-year-old in the place, and I heard little murmers and peeps and squawks from other kids during the course of the show.  And it was pretty cute when she spread her arms and then gracefully drew them up above her head in unconscious imitation of the dancers on stage.

Julia moved to my lap during the fight between the Mouse Queen and the Nutcracker and their assorted cohorts.  I kind of expected that.  And it worked out nicely for the rest of the show; Julia snuggled on my lap, whispering her occasional questions.  Alex rubbed his head against my shoulder now and then.

They both asked "when is it gonna be done?" a few times, but since they had no idea how long something like this would last – or any real concept of the passing of time if it didn't involve commercial interruptions – then their questioning was understandable.

The ballet ended – and it was wonderful, by the way, though Bill was disappointed that there was no live orchestra – and since the kids were huuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggry, and because they had been well-behaved overall, we told them we'd go out to eat at a restaurant.  Yay!

As we buckled the kids into their car seats, I asked Alex if he liked the show.  "Oh, yes!  It was very musical!"  Julia liked all the ballerinas "and the fairies and the princesses" and liked the Sugar Plum Fairy the best.  Probably because of her purple costume.

A treasure chest indeed.

2 thoughts on “Inside a Treasure Chest

  1. What a beautiful theatre! Really stunning.

    I think everyone was ever so well behaved, a real treat for you all.

    I saw a poster for Mamma Mia in the lobby – now that is something you should be going to see with your girlfriends (No men to be embarrassed when you stand up and sing along, you know?) . 🙂

  2. I remember taking my daughter when she was 4 and at the time thinking about how long it was for her to sit through. But, we both enjoyed it, and, she got to have her picture taken with some of the dancers after.

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